LIMERICK’S SHC decider is the contest that all “wanted to see”.
The clash of champions Na Piarsaigh and former champions Kilmallock takes place Sunday (3.30) in the Gaelic Grounds.
The Caherdavin club are chasing a first back-to-back success.
They are captain by Limerick star Kevin Downes, who said that the eagerly awaited final has captured the imagination of the public.
“From a neutral point of view everyone is saying that this is the final they wanted to see,” said Downes this Tuesday at the launch of the Q3 Security Systems hurling final.
“We have shared the senior for the last four years, winning it every second year so I’m sure it will be a great game with two very good teams going at it.”
The bookies make Na Piarsaigh the favourites to retain their title.
“The work is done. We have got this far so now all we want to do is perform on Sunday. From experience of big games we would be used to the occasion but a County Final is still a massive occasion and there is no getting away from that - you will wake up Sunday morning and there will still be butterflies and that’s only healthy. It’s great to be in it - you are not there every year so you have to make the most of them when you get there,” said Downes, who captained Limerick to the 2011 Munster U-21 title.
“We will give it everything we can on Sunday and hopefully get the right result.”
Na Piarsaigh have already won the Limerick U-21 hurling title and the Limerick intermediate football title this season.
Downes warned that all in the city club are hungry for more success.
“There is a hunger within the group to try and win as much as we can - we have a good group together and we want to make hay as the sun shines,” outlined Downes.
“Within the group we have an expectation of how we can play and the performance we want to get. We haven’t done that so far this year and we know you just can’t turn up on Sunday and hope it will happen, it takes a lot of work. We have a lot of hard work done and hopefully that will pay off for us,” he said.
“We are all looking forward to it and excited - there are a lot of younger lads on the panel that haven’t won a county yet as well. They are hungry to win one and that drives the whole group.”
While Na Piarsaigh are favourites and defending champions, Downes is well aware of the threat posed by Kilmallock.
“In 2012 we were beaten by Kilmallock in the semi final and it was a case that they were the better team on the day it was as simple as that - you could dress it up as hunger or the previous year’s hangover, but they were the better team.”
“Kilmallock are a very good team and we know we will be up against it but we will just try and get the most out of ourselves,” said Downes.
The curtain-raiser to Sunday’s senior final will be the County Cup final between Patrickswell and Effin at 1.30.